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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Lawsuits not frivolous when you are involved

Technically, insurance companies have a point about whether damage from Hurricane Katrina was from wind or water.

But the thousands of homeowners waiting for their insurance companies to pay for the damage might see the point as frivolous and an attempt to get out from under their obligations.

Having a good lawyer handy sure beats making it more difficult to sue in such situations. While the Republican Congress embraces limiting the ability to sue, one of its leading conservatives has lined up to take his case to court.

Sen. Trent Lott is suing his insurance company because it hasn't paid for the damages to his beachfront home in Pascagoula, which the hurricane leveled. And he's hired his brother-in-law, a high-profile plaintiffs' attorney.

One can legitimately argue that these hurricane lawsuits don't constitute frivolous lawsuits. But one could also argue that many lawsuits, such as having the ability to sue firearms manufacturers, dealers and importers isn't frivolous either.

Gov. Haley Barbour asked Mississippians to not sue because he fears lawsuits might drive the companies out of the state. But the senator, like many others, didn't see merit in pampering companies that they think don't meet their obligations.

The governor, instead, wants to negotiate settlements with the companies, which suggests he might be willing to settle for less than policy values.

That might be the best solution, yet the whole controversy should give the nation cause to reconsider the definition of what's a frivolous lawsuit, because when you are involved they are not insignificant.

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